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UK Gets Europe's First 3G Femtocell 114

Posted by kdawson
from the atto-boy dept.
judgecorp writes "Femtocells have been on the horizon for a while, but the UK just got the first 3G femtocell launch in Europe, by Vodafone. The device connects to handsets in the room and links them to the cellular network over broadband. It's a classic win-win, because it gives the user better coverage and takes traffic off the service provider's network. The only complaint might be from the broadband provider, who could be carrying traffic for a rival. Vodafone isn't pushing the data angle, but since it has HSPA, the product could work just fine with laptops and dongles. Femtos have been in limbo waiting for serious launches, but judging from the list of speakers at the World Femtocell Summit in London, Vodafone might not be the only one."
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UK Gets Europe's First 3G Femtocell

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  • I love it! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @05:17AM (#28450393)
    I can pay for overpriced mobile data charges while paying for over-subscribed and under-performing broadband!

    It's fucking win-win for big business.
    • Re:I love it! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Canazza (1428553) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @05:26AM (#28450431)

      It's just another slashvertisement.

      Chodeaphone sucks. their coverage sucks in particular, which is why they're pushing this.

      I'm just waiting for someone to figure out how to hijack what is essentially a wireless connection to someone's broadband...

      • by ATMD (986401)

        Chodeaphone? What?

        If you're going to alter a company's name for ironic effect, at least do it in a way that makes sense. Personally I find it immature and annoying, and wish people wouldn't do it at all.

      • by leathered (780018)

        Slashvertisement it may be but as a former employer of Vodafone I know that they have the best voice and 3G coverage of any mobile operator in the UK. That's why they are the government's preferred operator. And no I don't have any affection for the company.

        As for yourself, getting coverage in your mother's basement would be a challenge for any network.

        • by Canazza (1428553)

          Check the latest poll, I live in an attic

        • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          as a former employer of Vodafone

          Vodafone used to work for you? You should have fired their ass.

      • by Jurily (900488)

        I'm just waiting for someone to figure out how to hijack what is essentially a wireless connection to someone's broadband...

        Yeah. What better way to get out of a RIAA lawsuit than "they hacked my router"?

      • by easyTree (1042254)

        It's just another slashvertisement.

        Banish those My-kids-miss-being-irradiated-by-the-cell-towers-mounted-on-their-school-buildings-when-they-come-home blues. Install our manufacturer-approved home-irradiation device for whole-day coverage. Order now while stocks last! *parting corporate jingle*

        • by PitaBred (632671)
          ...really? "Irradiated"? You get more radiation from FM radio or TV transmissions than from these things. And either way, it's this nice thing called "non-ionizing" radiation, so it really doesn't affect anything [wikipedia.org]. There has never been a double-blind study where people can reliably "detect" cell phone/wifi fields, or have ill effects shown from exposure. It's the same as with the Autism-vaccine bullshit link... it's idiots who don't know anything getting all sky-falling-y.

          Take your pseudo-science fearmonge
          • by easyTree (1042254)

            your call is important to us; please hold

            *muzak plays*

            "order your home-irraditation device today and receive a 20% discount

            *muzak continues*

            all of our customer service representatives are busy; please hold...

            *muzak continues*

      • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

        I'm just waiting for someone to figure out how to hijack what is essentially a wireless connection to someone's broadband...

        Been there, done that.

      • by squoozer (730327)

        I agree that Vodafones coverage isn't what it could be but that is a criticism that could be made of any of the mobile providers. In my experience Vodafone isn't much better or worse than any other provider it really depends on where you are. What we really need is for some Government intervention to allow the mobile providers a bit more freedom in putting up masts. They have bent over backwards to placate pressure groups and it's left us with beautifully hidden but rather patchy mobile phone system. More p

      • by WoLpH (699064)

        Don't know about the UK but in the Netherlands Vodafone is one of the best in terms of coverage. It's still not all that great everywhere, but in general it's one of the best you can get.

        And yes I'm a Vodafone customer, and no I'm not that satisfied (they gave me a 50MB limit per month which doesn't even cover my monthly mail traffic).

        • by bami (1376931)
          Here in The Netherlands, you got 3 choices: Vodafone, T-Mobile or KPN (former goverment-controlled telephone company). The worst network is from T-Mobile for sure, I used to have a subscription with them (for 4 years) and coverage was mediocre at best. Calls dropping, no coverage at the most stupid locations, and 3G coverage is about 50%.
          Been a subscriber with Vodafone since march and I must say, everywhere I go it's either 3 or 3.5g, with some really ridiculous locations being only GSM (inside a store in
    • This seems to be targetted at home users, which isn't what I was expecting.

      There are lots of old buildings in Europe, and some of them have really, really thick stone walls. Some of them only have moderately thick stone walls. Something that provided a signal in buildings like this would be useful.

    • by jac89 (979421)
      Well i only pay 30 pounds a month for unlimited data and £140 of equivalent pay as you go credit, the mobile markets in the uk are not tooo bad.
    • The very same techonolgy can be used to build or own celular network and show the telecom companies the finger.
  • Uh no.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EdIII (1114411) * on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @05:17AM (#28450395)

    It's a classic win-win, because it gives the user better coverage and takes traffic off the service provider's network.

    Uhhh, no. It's a classic fuck-the-consumer, what-the-fuck-were-they-smoking, you-have-to-be-fucking-kidding-me deal.

    I got this spiel from Verizon (USA) a little while back. Unlucky enough to have marginal service where I live, I asked a Verizon store rep what could be done about it. He then came back with a nice box and said, "It's really cool. It's called a thingmajiggy and it will boost your cellphone service through your Internet connection." I thought, "Wow, that's pretty cool of them".

    Just one thing everyone forgets or wants to gloss over in this massive techno-wankathon over how cool it is.... Verizon tried to charge me $250. Two-Hundred-And-Fifty-Bucks.

    This is what you are getting for $250. The ability for ANY Verizon phone within range, which from what I understand is about as good as an access point, to PREFER your "femtocell" and place the calls across your Internet connection back into Verizon. Everyone still gets charged for their usage.

    Why would I PAY Verizon to basically expand their own coverage area? Why would I incur the bandwidth costs for unknown cellphone users around me? Yeah, I couldn't fucking figure it out either.

    Before anybody gets real hot about how cool these things are, just realize that you are paying these people directly to expand their service coverage. That's just plain nuts. If it was $40 or $50 bucks like a cheap router and I could restrict access by IMEI, *maybe* it might be an interesting deal.

    from outright purchase at £160, to bundling with contracts around £15 per month. ------- Femtos will first be deployed to offer better indoor coverage and keep customer loyalty ----- an Shepherd, consumer director, Vodafone UK. "We are committed to delivering the best, most reliable network and this is another step towards maintaining a seamless service."

    Wow. In the UK it seems, not only will you pay to increase their service coverage, but monthly as well. I hope a reach-around comes with that deal. Gotta admit, that's one hell of a commitment to increasing coverage and creating a reliable network. Let's make everyone pay multiple month's of service up front along with an additional monthly service cost to put them to work for us.

    Total. Fucking. Insanity. /END RANT

    • Re:Uh no.... (Score:5, Informative)

      by PhilHibbs (4537) <snarks@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @05:25AM (#28450423) Homepage Journal

      With this Vodafone one, "The device will support up to four voice calls, and users will register the handsets they want to use it on the web", so only you and your family/friends can use your picocell.

      • Boring!!!! I would love to let anyone use it.....
        .....as it's my network am i not entitled to sniff traffic that flows across it?
        • by PhilHibbs (4537)

          Nice idea - but in the UK it is illegal to record a conversation (including text web chat such as IRC) without the permission of the people involved. You could listen in, maybe, but not record it. Even then you might be infringing some telecommunications regulations by deliberately snooping on a telephone conversation even if it is using your infrastructure (and by setting up their phone number as being specifically allowed, you can't even claim ignorance)

          • Ok.... So when i'm standing in a busy room and here all those conversations am i breaking the law? Now what happens if i'm recording myself and happen to capture a few of those noisey buggers having a conversation in the background?
            This is a tough one ain't it....

            One thing i was wondering was that would data (web browsing) still go via Vodafone or would it now cut that part out and go direct to the target website? After all am i not responsible for ALL traffic that leaves my network? I wouldn't want anyon
            • by PhilHibbs (4537)

              If someone that you know (and allowed access via your cell) was downloading kiddie porn on their phone, I guess that when the rozzers [wiktionary.org] come knocking, you tell them who has had access to your cell, and they arrest your friend. After all, if you scan your network traffic and see kiddie porn, what are you going to do? Tell your friend to stop, or call the cops? Unless you are prepared to shop your friend to the authorities, you can't avoid being inconvenienced at her majesty's (or Obama Kenobi's) pleasure just

      • If this is using your broadband connection to allow GSM mobiles to connect to Voda's network, would you pick up anything interesting with Wireshark? Could you (for example) put the femtocell into "promiscous" mode and get neighbours' phones to automatically prefer to connect to it?
        • by stupid_is (716292)
          All fine if you can (a) descramble the packets into timeslots that the user is using (not sure if you also have to work out which packet is associated with which frequency and then determine the frequency hopping algorithm for that user, too, but that's probably reasonably simple given the max number of users on the cell), (b) reassemble same into voice frames and (c) decrypt the 128-bit A5/3 encrypted user-plane information (possible, but after the rest of the stuff is it still within the realms of the reg
      • by Aceticon (140883)

        For £150 you can buy a Nokia E51, SIM free (change network whenever you want) which supports VOIP over Wi-Fi.

        That's £10 less AND all your calls will be a lot cheaper (VOIP prices are much less than mobile phone prices) when you're in range of your Wi-Fi router.

        You can even configure your VOIP to forward calls to your mobile phone number when you're not in range.

      • Same with Sprint; they call their version the AIRAVE [nextel.com] and it says: "Limit access to your AIRAVE by creating a list of up to 50 approved Sprint phone numbers."

    • Re:Uh no.... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by quarkoid (26884) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @05:26AM (#28450433) Homepage

      I would agree with you entirely, were it not for the fact that Voda appear to be locking this box down to certain handsets.

      However, I agree entirely - why should I pay an additional monthly fee to Voda just so I can use their service from my house when I can walk fifty yards down the street and not have to pay? Further, not only am I paying Voda for the privilege of saving them money, but I then have to fork out for additional bandwidth on my home broadband.

      All that having been said, one of only two reasons my company has an office is for mobile coverage. If I can get coverage at home (and those of my staff), there's no reason not to move to home working any more. The additional cost of the cells would still result in a saving if we don't have to pay for the offices.

      Ho hum.

      Nick.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by jonbryce (703250)

        Because you don't want to have to walk down the street in the off chance that someone might be trying to phone you.

      • When you're at home just redirect your mobile to you landline FFS! Or is using a phone that plugs into the wall just so uncool these days that you'd sooner be with no phone service at all?

        • by BluBrick (1924)
          Not everyone has a landline telephone service. Some folks have the physical line, but it's only used for their broadband connection. Here in Australia, it's called naked ADSL, and it's becoming quite popular. (local customs may vary)
          • by Viol8 (599362)

            In that case thats their fault and their problem if they have no phone service. They shouldn't be so tight.

        • Anything with wires is totally uncool and no longer worth using - or so it seems. Personally, I still find myself occasionally using the land line attached to my DSL service.

      • by weffew... (954080)

        In many places in the UK It's possible to get a totally uncapped, unbandwidth-shaped broadband connection for under £15 which is actually usable (20Mbits down, 1.5 up).

        As such, I don't agree that the bandwidth is necesarily an extra charge. The majority of homes in the UK already have bandwidth because they have broadband anyway - and the clever ones have Be* or o2 Broadband without caps. For those people, the voda femtocell may actually be pretty useful.

        I've got friends who have great broadband

        • In many places in the UK It's possible to get a totally uncapped, unbandwidth-shaped broadband connection for under £15 which is actually usable (20Mbits down, 1.5 up).

          Who with? I'm currently looking to switch away from Virgin, because they're terrible (massively oversubscribed, resulting in dialup-like speed at peak times) in my area.

    • Okay so you live in an area with shitty reception. Now you got a device that you can use to use your cell phone at home. But as soon as you leave your home you're in a dead zone. So maybe you are lucky and where you work/hang out has reception and now home has reception too so you can now justify a cell phone. But chances are you can't use your cellphone when you are at work anyways, and if you can it is a work phone and you aren't supposed to use it for personal calls. I wouldn't go out and by a cellphone
    • I have to say, from what you've described, this device sounds like something I could really use. The mobile signal in my house is attrocious. In the US, you can use repeaters to extend coverage within your own house, but those devices are completely illegal in the UK. If this offers a viable, legal alternative, I'd definitely consider it.

      Of course, 1. I'm on 3, not voda, and 2. I can't afford to drop the cash on it. But, in principle ...

    • If you bothered to RTFA, you would see that you can register (via web site) what phones can use your box and that you buy the box OR pay a monthly fee for it. You do NOT pay for the box and then pay an extra monthly fee on top of it.
    • by nmg196 (184961)

      Your entire rant reads like you think this is for *home* users. It's primarily targetted at business users. Probably those that have bought everyone Blackberrys and then find they don't work in basement etc.

      > Why would I PAY Verizon to basically expand their own coverage area?

      For the exact same reason you PAY to have broadband, cable or phone lines installed in your house: Because you want to USE IT perhaps?! By paying them to install broadband in your house you're "paying them to extend their network"

    • Re:Uh no.... (Score:4, Informative)

      by limaxray (1292094) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @08:10AM (#28451051) Homepage
      I have one with Verizon and I'm fairly sure you can restrict access to it by handset if you like. I've never bothered because I really couldn't care less if some stranger uses a bit of my bandwidth. Furthermore, it only allows a limited number of calls at one time - 5 IIRC - so it's not like the entire neighbourhood will be using your internet connection. Lastly, the range isn't that great, (remember, this thing is using licensed spectrum) so if you live somewhere where you need this (ie in a non-densely populated area) I highly doubt your neighbours can connect to it anyway. Heck, I can't connect to it from more than a few feet outside my house.

      I do agree the cost is kind of high (I feel less as bad for myself seeing as those in the UK really get screwed with a monthly fee) but if you need service, you need service. I'd rather cough up the extra cash to have good coverage and live where I want to live (aka bumfuck). The only other option would be a cellular repeater with an antenna mounted on your roof and that'd be significantly more expensive and dependant on the reception already available.
    • by squoozer (730327)

      While the deal that you were offered is totally nuts I don't think this deal is the same sort of thing. The impression I got was it simply acts as a base station for up to four registered phones. Personally, I think there is some scope for the system you describe if the pricing and technology are put together in the correct package.

      For example, imagine you live in a remote area with no / limited mobile coverage, your mobile provider offers you this deal: you buy your broadband and a mobile contract off them

    • by AaronW (33736)

      I have the Verizon network extender because inside my house gets very poor cell phone reception, likely due to the metal roof and chicken wire in the stucco walls. It actually works quite well. It's main drawbacks are that it requires a GPS antenna to be hooked up and it does not handle EVDO.

      It gives priority to the phone numbers I specify and only supports other phones when there is no other signal. It can support up to 3 simultaneous phone calls and reserves a fourth for 911. So far it has been wo

    • Before anybody gets real hot about how cool these things are, just realize that you are paying these people directly to expand their service coverage. That's just plain nuts. If it was $40 or $50 bucks like a cheap router and I could restrict access by IMEI, *maybe* it might be an interesting deal.

      The technology is pretty cool - cell site in the palm of your hand. The way the corporations handle them not so much.

  • What about wifi? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by javilon (99157) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @05:22AM (#28450413) Homepage

    What stops you from doing the exact same thing using wifi? You connect your phone through wifi to a VoIP gateway that will route the call to any phone number you want to call. You just need a VoIP client installed on your handset. If you have a open handset, for example an Android one, that's easy and you can use this today within any wifi network you have access to.

    • Re:What about wifi? (Score:5, Informative)

      by TheThiefMaster (992038) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @05:53AM (#28450515)

      All "3" mobile phones have a skype client, the sticking point is the wifi.

      On the other hand "3" seem to have gone completely off their rocker and aren't charging for the data skype uses on their wireless network. Net result? Free calls. Completely free calls.

      !?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Mark Hood (1630)

        Each VOIP call uses less bandwidth than a voice call, so it's a transition to get people to do this. You still have a monthly contract, so expect the price of that to go up as people use it more...

        Perhaps they have a deal with Skype also, so they get a share of outcall and termination revenue, after all it's only Skype to Skype calls that are free, if I call my friends on their 'real' phones I still get charged.

        In fact, that's part of their plan - once I start using it, I nag all my friends to get it too, s

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by xorsyst (1279232)

          Each VOIP call uses less bandwidth than a voice call, so it's a transition to get people to do this. You still have a monthly contract,

          Urm, no I don't. I got 3 on PAYG. What I do need to fork out for is a handset that will run the skype software, which my phone won't. As I don't know anyone on skype it's kinda useless for me. However, what is useful is that you also get "unlimited" free 3-to-3 calls, some free data and free texts on PAYG, providing you top up at least £5 every 3 months.

        • Each VOIP call uses less bandwidth than a voice call, so it's a transition to get people to do this. You still have a monthly contract, so expect the price of that to go up as people use it more...

          Nope. http://threestore.three.co.uk/payg/default.aspx [three.co.uk] clearly shows these phones NOT on contract which have free skype calls. And it's being marketed as FREE CALLS FOREVER (so don't expect any price to appear). Three is a pretty cool company.

          • And it's being marketed as FREE CALLS FOREVER (so don't expect any price to appear).

            Yeah, and I was sold an unlimited broadband package.

          • They also explicitly say that you don't have to top up the phone with calling credit to use the free Skype.

            Just buy a phone, and you can make skype calls over their network free of charge forever. They also have msn messenger free too, to replace crazy expensive text messages.

            I don't know how they can profit off of that. Perhaps the logic is that someone with a "3" phone might occasionally make normal calls with it, which do cost?

            • Would make you a pretty happy "customer", right? Following that, think you might be likely to give them a front running if you do need traditional cell service, or broadband, long distance?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by SpooForBrains (771537)

        Unless they have made drastic changes lately:

        1. Skype on 3 goes via a gateway. From your handset to three is done via the mobile network, then they route it over Skype.
        2. No Skype-out. Free calls to other Skype users are only of limited use.

        • by hra078 (1296703)

          2. No Skype-out. Free calls to other Skype users are only of limited use.

          skype-out is allowed for international calls on 3 skype. Very useful.

          • Thanks. Just installed the new Skype client and indeed, so it does. Last time I was paying attention they hadn't even released a working client for my phone (E61 at the time, now E71). I had to hack it on using the X-series installer.
      • Look at the Nokia E51. (There may be others.)
      • by squoozer (730327)

        I saw one of those "Free Skype for Life" 3 adverts the other day and couldn't help thinking of the old classic:

        1. Set up mobile phone company.
        2. Offer completely free calls and data for ever.
        3. ...
        4. Profit!
    • by Mark Hood (1630)

      Nothing, but if you want to use the same mobile number, there's no-one (as far as I'm aware) that allows that.

      Ideally someone would come up with a single access number that finds me by the best method - cellphone when I'm out and about, over Skype/VOIP when I'm there, and voicemail when I'm not.

      If I switch full time to Skype, I can use it at home, but it's a LOT harder when out and about - as far as I know, only '3' in the UK allow it explicitly on their handsets.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by dark42 (1085797)

      T-Mobile in the USA does just this with their Hotspot@Home service. You need to have a compatible handset with WiFi. The service costs about $10 a month and lets you make unlimited calls while you are on your WiFi network or T-mobile's WiFi hotspots in coffeeshops and such.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Unfortunately Vodafone and Orange in the UK think it`s OK to cripple their phones with customised firmwares which remove the VOIP functionality, so you have to debrand the phone and flash vanilla firmware, or try and install a VOIP and get it working that way.

    • by Sobrique (543255)
      Because a VOIP call works fine for outbound, it's not so great for inbound on your published phone number for your company mobile.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    WRONG - Orange was the first UK/European company to offer their service via a broadband connection. Their femtocell offering was called unique phone and was released well over a year ago!

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Orange does it with Wi-Fi phones.
      A femtocell is not Wi-Fi, it is a tiny GSM repeater hooked to a broadband connection.

      Net difference: you can only use the Orange service with Orange-specific devices. You can use femtocell with any GSM phone.

  • Already been done (Score:4, Interesting)

    by benwiggy (1262536) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @06:10AM (#28450585)
    How is this different from, or better than, phones that automatically connect to wireless networks and use them for calls?
    My Orange Nokia 6301 supposedly does this in the UK.

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generic_Access_Network [wikipedia.org]

    The 3G network "3" also claims to use Skype automatically to reduce call costs.

  • Lots of people seem to be assuming that this is you paying the network to extend their network for anyone to use.

    It isn't.

    If you read the article (I know, radical), you'll see that only four phones, which you need to register, will be able to use the femto-cell. So no, you won't be providing your neighbours with improved service over your own connection (unless you register their phone).

    While it's pretty expensive, I'd actually be tempted by this. I can't get a reliable mobile signal in my flat, because of the construction of the building (mobile reception outside is fine).

    Of course, it doesn't say if calls made over the femto cell are cheaper than over their network. I would hope they were, it would mean I could pretty much ignore my landline, which I only use because I can't be mobile reception.

  • Why would you use a laptop and a dongle to transfer data over this thing? What was the submitter thinking, why wouldn't you just use wifi?

    • Why would you use a laptop and a dongle to transfer data over this thing? What was the submitter thinking, why wouldn't you just use wifi?

      Because there won't be any wifi. Cellular networking won the battle when the iphone came out and phone companies started selling netbooks on contract. Ten years from now small to medium businesses won't have any networking gear in their offices at all. They will use cellular networks for all their traffic. Bigger businesses may have private networks or microcells like this.

  • by Avian visitor (257765) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @06:48AM (#28450729) Homepage

    "It's certainly the first of its kind in Europe, and I see Vodafone says it will work over every home broadband line,"

    I had a Samsung Femtocell installed in my basement last November running over a residential DSL line. It's from a Slovenian mobile operator Mobitel - I even written a blog post [tablix.org] about it.

  • Rival? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by FrostedWheat (172733)

    The only complaint might be from the broadband provider, who could be carrying traffic for a rival

    Er, no. They're carrying traffic for their (paying) customer.

  • Maybe I've misunderstood what all this is about, but would it help you avoid roaming charges? If inbound and outbound voice calls are broadband-routed up to your local "femtocell", then it might not matter if you are in another country.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Tesco (a British supermarket) sell a cheap internet phone that gets a real phone number. I know several people who've bought them and sent them to their parents abroad (e.g. in India). So the Indian parents now have a Birmingham, UK telephone number and can talk to the children at local rather than international rates.

      Unless Vodafone are checking IP ranges, there's no reason this device shouldn't work in the same way.

      • then it should be easy enough to tunnel to the UK. Some Femtocells (no idea about this vodafone one) have built in GPS to the cell can locate itself. Officially I believe it's pitched to make sure the femtocell is licensed to be used, but everybody immediately pointed out it was to stop it being used for roaming. Was never quite sure how the GPS would work though, unless it was in the T&C that you had to balance your femtocell on a window ledge.
        • GPS is a cell phone tower requirement, for CDMA anyway, not sure about GSM networks. All the large towers (again CDMA for sure, not sure about GSM) have GPS coords programmed into them or have a GPS receiver. Cell phones usually work off of several towers at once. Knowing the exact distance difference lets the system compensate for the time delay of one tower being closer than the other. Also it's how A-GPS works....so ya it's probably the same for GSM networks.
    • by djrogers (153854)
      Not sure about the one in question, but the Femtocells that have been profiled here in the past have all had a GPS receiver on them to ensure that you are in an area where the provider is legally allowed to provide coverage, ie your own country...
  • Hmm, I am from the UK but I spend almost all my time living in Brussels. I maintain a UK cellphone for the times when I am back though. If possible it might be cool to get one of these and plug into my Belgian broadband. A local access point without the international roaming charges.

    That could be sweet!

    -- Pete.

    • Running a VPN to your home PC, this is an entirely plausible idea. Stable Linux box used only for routing this traffic... You're onto a winner!

      Well done for thinking of it.
    • What a great idea! Can't believe I didn't think of trying this! That basically amounts to free international calling, and the ability to use my american cell phone (without a SIM card) overseas!

      Sprint makes a device called the Airave [nextel.com] that acts as a mini-cell tower over a DSL line. I imagine it could be plugged into any DSL line overseas, and route calls and voicemails to my cell phone in another country. Even if Sprint had some geographical limitations as to where the traffic could come from, I could
    • by Malc (1751)

      I imagine it depends on the codec they use. I've brought my Vonage Canada network adapter to the UK, bur found phone calls sounded like CDs skipping. Skype on the otherhand keeps going, even when I was in China and the latency was spiking up to 1000ms.

  • According to a subsequent conversation [eweekeurope.co.uk] with Vodafone, if you have a £30 a month contract with Vodafone, you can ask for one free, or have it bundled into your new contract. It's £5 a month on other contracts, and £160 to buy if you are pay-as-you-go. Yes, you are providing Vodafone with free backhaul, but you aren't paying vastly over the cost of the box for it. And yes, you can do the same with Wi-Fi.
    • by growse (928427)
      Link says £60 pm contract, not £30 - unless I'm blind?
      • by judgecorp (778838)
        Sorry - my typo - and how do I get a £ sign here? Also, a friend outside tech wants to know if a femto is like a fembot, and can they have one please?
  • I often visit the USA for several weeks at a time.

    With this device, I'll simply be able to plug the cell into my broadband in the US and have access as if I was home in the UK, without any worries!

    I do begrudge the idea of paying Vodafone for traffic in the UK, but outside, this sounds ideal!

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Good luck with the FCC in the US when you light up a European-band GSM base station here. These are licensed bands and you cannot just run around using them without the approval of the licensee.

    • by RJFerret (1279530)

      I often visit the USA for several weeks at a time.

      With this device, I'll simply be able to plug the cell into my broadband in the US and have access as if I was home in the UK, without any worries!

      Maybe not, the Sprint AIRAVE femtocell here in the USA requires a GPS lock showing it is within the US before it functions! (Source: this review [engadgetmobile.com] under "design")

      • by citizenr (871508)

        Maybe not, the Sprint AIRAVE femtocell here in the USA requires a GPS lock showing it is within the US before it functions! (Source: this review [engadgetmobile.com] under "design")

        and it would be terribly difficult to cut GPS traces and solder Atmel Attiny26 spamming US based NMEA string .. NOT

  • We have our offices in a high-rise building, and essentially you can't use your mobile phone as the quality is very bad. I assume it is because we are too high up and have too many other cells in range so the phone is constantly switching cells. Proximus (basically Vodafone Belgium) offered us something which I assume must have been using similar technology two years ago. They wanted 1000 Euros so we declined.
  • This is good news. Mobile internet is so important. I am looking for good mobile web hosting [hostwaffle.com] service. Nice story here. Thanks.
  • Verizon has what appears to be a great femtocell - except that they want $250 for it!! And the only reason I want one is because, contrary to their ads, they Can't hear me now when calling from my supposedly covered home.
  • Can it be hacked to pair with my own Asterisk server?
  • The only complaint might be from the broadband provider, who could be carrying traffic for a rival.

    The reason I use Comcast is because I can use high bandwidth services. I know Comcast doesn't have a cell phone network, but trust me, your ISP, weather or not they have a cell network, are not complaining about finding new reason why you should keep your service.

  • Innocent, until proven guilty. One of the older defaults in Western civilization.
  • I have seen these products installed since years ago here in Portugal, mainly in basement datacenters, and companies (both small companies and big companies) that where located in low coverage areas. Usually they would be connected directly to a phone line or a fibre cable, but they were there and this is nothing new in technology itself.

Whenever people agree with me, I always think I must be wrong. - Oscar Wilde

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